US Should Just Withdraw From Afghanistan.

As the president continues to identify Pentagon funds that he can divert to build his wall instead…it looks like he’s ready to abandon Afghanistan.

On Friday, the Associated Press published estimates for some of the accounts from which the Pentagon is pulling money, citing two anonymous defense officials. The largest segment, $604 million, will come from money funding Afghan and coalition forces, the AP reported.

If we aren’t committed to defending Afghanistan and its government…it’s time to just get out. If the president isn’t going to support our troops overseas we can’t leave them in harm’s way another moment.

The Hot Mess At WEDC Is Completely A Republican Issue

Yesterday, Zach posted a blog about the continued issues at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp (WEDC) and pointed out that this is a Republican issue. WEDC has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax credits to companies who haven’t earned them. They have issued millions of dollars in loans that haven’t been earned either and in many cases has failed to recover the tax payer supplied funds.

And this isn’t the only audit that they have failed…they do seem proud of the fact that each audit has shown improvement…but by now they should have straightened up this mess completely.

Hogan ( WEDC leader Mark Hogan ) said in a letter in response to the audit that it is focused on continual improvement, noting that audit recommendations have decreased from 24 in 2015 to 19 in 2017 and 10 in the latest report.

Yes…BRAVO! not.

So why am I so adamant at laying this at feet of the Wisconsin GOP? Because they created this department, have supervised this department since its creation, and passed a lame duck bill restricting newly elected Governor Evers access to the department. Woo-yee!

And the scary part is: they are tasked with monitoring the progress of the Foxconn project and the $3+ billions in tax credits they can potentially earned. But here’s a little background:

The report from the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau examined the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., a quasi-private agency created under Republican former Gov. Scott Walker that is in charge of job creation and dispenses more than $3.1 billion a year in tax credits, grants, loans and bonds.

WEDC has struggled since its creation in 2011 on a number of fronts, including recovering loans made to companies that don’t meet contractual requirements.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers campaigned as a critic of Foxconn and on wanting to dissolve the economic development agency, but backed off that promise after he defeated Walker. However, the Republican-controlled Legislature sought to protect WEDC by passing a law in a lame-duck session preventing Evers from replacing its CEO until September.

WEDC also doesn’t know exactly how many jobs were created or retained as a result of awards that had ended because it did not collect enough information from recipients, the audit said.

The audit also faults WEDC for not consistently complying with state laws and its contracts

emphasis mine

If state laws were broken, why hasn’t anyone been indicted? Former Governor Walker for instance. He was the first CEO of WEDC? None of the board members? None of the legislative leadership (they set the joint up and are tasked with oversight of state departments and agencies)? Those conservative fiscal no taxation people have no idea how to run a state government.

But not to worry! Third time is the charm!!

Hogan addressed all of the recommendations in detail and said WEDC would be working internally to come up with an action plan. He said all recommended changes should be “substantially implemented” by the end of the year.

emphasis mine

And why would I believe that they will complete any needed changes by the end of the year…when they haven’t been able to fix things over the past eight years?

The Wisconsin Legislative GOP…doing one thing while saying another since 2010!

So How Fearful Is Trump of Joe Biden

Apparently even a lot more than we thought at the time of our first post on the topic. Because the president is on the topic again…this time with Politico!

President Donald Trump told POLITICO on Friday that it would be “appropriate” for him to speak to Attorney General Bill Barr about launching an investigation into his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden, or his son, Hunter.

The question of whether Trump could pressure Barr to probe Biden is coming under scrutiny after Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, said he would be traveling to Ukraine to urge the incoming government there to look at Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy company that has reportedly been in prosecutors’ crosshairs. The efforts appear to be part of a broader campaign by Trump’s allies to damage the former Democratic vice president’s White House campaign and have raised questions about whether Trump’s team is trying to enlist a foreign government to aid the president’s re-election bid.

“Certainly it would be an appropriate thing to speak to him about, but I have not done that as of yet. … It could be a very big situation,” Trump said in a 15-minute telephone interview on Friday afternoon, which stemmed from POLITICO’s inquiries for a separate story.

Not surprising for a candidate who encouraged ‘lock her up’ chants during his rallies on the 2016 campaign trail. But apparently the Biden campaign is getting under the president’s skin. And this little side show also may explain this:

Barr also drew attention during his recent congressional testimony when he demurred on a question about whether anybody in the White House had ever suggested that he launch an investigation.

That should elicit a big ‘hmmmm’ from anyone paying attention. And it remains to be seen if President Trump will ‘suggest’ that the Justice Department look into any of his other opponents. That will be worth keeping an eye on.

Several former national security and law enforcement officials took issue later Friday with the president’s comment that he was within his right to approach Barr about a possible Biden investigation.

“Past Republican and Democratic administrations alike have recognized the critical importance of the wall of separation between the White House and DOJ when it comes to criminal investigations,” said Matt Axelrod, a former senior Obama Justice Department official. “This president’s belief that he can instruct the Attorney General to investigate his political rival is a wild break from past precedent and would represent a dangerous assault on the rule of law.”

Susan Hennessey, a former attorney at the National Security Agency wrote on Twitter after this story published that Trump’s comment was a “disturbing development people should pay attention to.”

The president’s one saving grace in this nonsense…well at least so far…is crazy Rudy Giuliani seems to the raging force behind this. But that in itself brings up a lot of other questions…which I don’t have the patience to sort out this afternoon.

(and let’s see if this brings out the troll bots again)

Trump Regime Continues To Attack Freedom of the Press

Just this past Saturday, I wrote about a conference that I attended at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee about freedom of the press around the world. In that article, I showed that the United States currently ranks 48 in press freedom…and I think that next review we won’t even be in the top 50.

Dana Milbank in the Washington Post: The White House Revokes Press Credentials!

For the past 21 years, I have had the high privilege of holding a White House press pass, a magical ticket that gives the bearer a front-row seat to history.

But no more. The White House eliminated most briefings and severely restricted access to official events. And this week came the coup de grace: After covering four presidents, I received an email informing me that Trump’s press office had revoked my White House credential.

I’m not the only one. I was part of a mass purge of “hard pass” holders after the White House implemented a new standard that designated as unqualified almost the entire White House press corps, including all seven of The Post’s White House correspondents. White House officials then chose which journalists would be granted “exceptions.” It did this over objections from news organizations and the White House Correspondents’ Association.

The Post requested exceptions for its seven White House reporters and for me, saying that this access is essential to our work. The White House press office granted exceptions to the other seven, but not to me.

Now, virtually the entire White House press corps is credentialed under “exceptions,” which means, in a sense, that they all serve at the pleasure of press secretary Sarah Sanders because they all fail to meet credentialing requirements — and therefore, in theory, can have their credentials revoked any time they annoy Trump or his aides…

So…the press can’t even be the enemy of the people anymore…but now they might have time to write more ‘fake news’…if they can’t fritter away their time in the White House press room. ok this last bit was a bit of sarcasm.

But can we really say that we are a free country anymore of the press isn’t allowed to cover the president? Can we truly say we are a democracy if the ears of the people can’t hear what is being said in the West Wing? American government at all levels needs to be more open and more transparent than ever before…but instead they continue to retreat into silence and to hiding behind artificial barriers.

Ignoring all of the other nonsense floating around this POTUS…what he is now doing is OBSTRUCTING freedom of the press…this to me violates the US Constitution in the first order…this is grounds for impeachment!

A bit of background on executive privilege:

It all started with President Thomas Jefferson:

Executive privilege is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, the foundation of U.S. law.

But the Supreme Court has said that it is “fundamental to the operation of government and inextricably rooted in the separation of powers under the Constitution.”

The term “executive privilege” was not used until the 1950s. The doctrine’s contours were unclear until a 1974 Supreme Court case. In U.S. v. Nixon, President Richard Nixon was ordered to deliver tapes and other subpoenaed materials to a federal judge for review. The justices ruled 9-0 that a president’s right to privacy in his communications must be balanced against Congress’ need to investigate and oversee the executive branch.

U.S. v. Nixon is also widely understood to mean that executive privilege cannot be used to cover up wrongdoing. That view was endorsed by current U.S. Attorney General William Barr during his Senate confirmation hearing.

One lesson of U.S. v. Nixon is that an executive privilege claim is particularly weak when Congress has invoked its power to remove a president from office through impeachment, said Frank Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri.
In the impeachment context, “virtually no part of a president’s duties or behavior is exempt from scrutiny,” Bowman said. 

There are so few court decisions on executive privilege that it is hard to be certain if Trump can withhold the unredacted report and underlying evidence, said Ross Garber, a lawyer in Washington who focuses on political investigations.

But to prevail in court the White House will eventually need to be more specific about which documents are protected by executive privilege and why, Garber said.

In a letter to Trump on Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr encouraged the president to make a “preliminary, protective assertion of executive privilege designed to ensure your ability to make a final assertion, if necessary, over some or all of the subpoenaed materials.”
Some legal experts have argued that Trump long ago forfeited, or waived, his right to make an executive privilege claim over conversations described by witnesses in Mueller’s investigation and related documents.

Much like the attorney-client privilege, executive privilege is intended to keep conversations private. Generally speaking, once third parties are told about such conversations, they are no longer secret and the privilege has been waived, legal experts said.

Other lawyers have argued that making witnesses available for interviews with law enforcement officials is not a total waiver of executive privilege. They said Trump could still invoke the doctrine to limit disclosure of documents relating to the interviews.

Party on Garth!